By Kevin Wilson
The mood at recent Portales volleyball practices seemed closer to the energy of a brand new volleyball season than one almost done, where injuries and losses have taken their toll.
Call it excitement, call it anticipation. But don’t call it overconfidence.
“We’re not going in overconfident or cocky,” Portales coach Ruth Chavez said of Saturday’s 4 p.m. Class 3A regional championship against the Grants Pirates. “We’re just confident in what we’re doing and hope we play our game.”
Saturday’s winner advances to the state tournament, held Nov. 14-15 at Roswell.
Portales (11-10) has played just two matches in the last 10 days — plenty of time to get ready for the final stretch of the season, and plenty of time to let injuries heal.
Take Amy Archibeque, a 5-foot-4 senior setter. Archibeque injured her posterior cruciate ligament — something she didn’t know existed before injuring it — and has been kept out of action ever since.
“It’s felt a lot better,” said Archibeque. “When it first hurt, I wouldn’t even be able to bend my knee a certain way.”
Archibeque said she injured her PCL after landing wrong following a collision with a teammate in an Oct. 18 match at Ruidoso. Since then, she has been held out of the last two matches against Lovington and has only recently returned to normal practice routines.
Sitting out those two matches, including Saturday’s District 4-3A championship, was not much of a concern to Archibeque, who said she had confidence in her replacement (junior Ashleah Richards) and the rest of her teammates.
“It wasn’t so much frustrating because I was looking forward to the next (match),” Archibeque said. “I was on the bench a lot last year, and I know that (cheering teammates on) just as important as doing your job out there.”
Chavez has been focusing on everybody’s job as part of this week’s practices. The third-year Portales coach has been breaking the team down into individual positions and spending 45 minutes to an hour on each.
Chavez admitted that she hasn’t been able to get much information at all about Grants, the District 3-3A runnerup, but said the Lady Rams are preparing for anything.
“We’re preparing for the best team ever.”